Anti-gun Groups Play the Race Card to Intimidate Legislators About SB 317
On Monday, July 20, 2020, Everytown for Gun Safety, Ohio Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations held an online press conference to denounce Senate Bill 317 and accuse the FASTER Saves Lives program of racism and Islamophobia.
SB 317 seeks to clarify Ohio law with regard to the right of a school district to permit its personnel to be armed in order to protect students and other staff from an attack. SB 317 became necessary after the 12th District Court of Appeals overturned a lower court decision that affirmed the right of the Madison Local School District in Butler County to allow its staff to carry a firearm as one part of a school safety plan.
"The FASTER Saves Lives program has one purpose, and that is to greatly reduce the loss of life in the event of an attack in a school,” said Dean Rieck, Executive Director of Buckeye Firearms Association. "No matter the race or religion of any student, our goal with the FASTER program is to greatly increase their chance to survive.
"We are shocked and disgusted by the accusations from anti-gun organizations who would rather our kids remain vulnerable during an active killer event rather than see them protected."
FASTER is a nonprofit program created by concerned parents, law enforcement, and nationally-recognized safety and medical experts as a practical response to violence in schools. It provides high-level training in armed response, crisis management, and emergency medical aid.
"It is a fact that a direct and immediate response to an active killer in a school greatly reduces casualties. Because the truth is not on their side, those who oppose firearm ownership are resorting to groundless and absurd accusations to intimidate and confuse members of the legislature," continued Rieck.
"That is why we stand by this bill as introduced, applaud Sen. Bill Coley and Senate President Larry Obhof for their leadership, and urge committee members to move this bill as soon as possible."
Here is the testimony Buckeye Firearms Association gave on this bill earlier this year:
Testimony of Rob Sexton
On behalf of Buckeye Firearms Association
Before the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee
May 27th, 2020, 5:00 PM
Senate Finance Hearing Room
Chairman Coley, members of the Senate Government Oversight Committee, I am Rob Sexton, the Legislative Affairs Director for the Buckeye Firearms Association. BFA is non-profit social welfare organization that defends and advances the right of more than 4 million Ohio citizens to own and use firearms for all legal activities, including self-defense, hunting, competition, and recreation. It is the self defense aspect of our mission that brings me here today to testify. Or more accurately put, the defense of others, in this case our most precious legacy, our children.
I am here to express our strong support for Chairman Coley’s Senate Bill 317, which would clarify the law with regard to the right of a school district to permit its personnel to be armed in order to protect students and other staff from an attack. Senate Bill 317 became necessary after the 12th District Court of Appeals overturned a lower court decision that affirmed the right of the Madison Local School District in Butler County to allow its staff to carry a firearm as one aspect of a school safety plan.
In 2018 the school district joined many others across Ohio by implementing a comprehensive safety program that included an armed response team inside schools. They knew, like we know, that engaging an active killer quickly saves lives. A lawsuit financed by former NY City Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety challenged the school district’s safety program.
The Appeals Court ruling interpreted Ohio law as requiring the same level of training a police officer would need for anyone armed in a school in a voluntary capacity. This flawed interpretation would require more than 700 hours of training, much of it completely unrelated to the situation the district is trying to address. Worse, this decision will prevent any school district in Ohio from allowing staff to go armed to save the lives of school children in the event of an active killer situation.
In addition to overturning the lower court, the appellate court decision is in conflict with the plain language of the statute. It is also in conflict with an opinion by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine in 2013. While an appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court is possible, it is also very costly and will string this issue out for much longer than is tolerable. Because the appellate court decision is so out of step with prevailing legal thought, the better solution for Madison and for any school district would be for the General Assembly to make the law crystal clear.
Chairman Coley’s Senate Bill 317 does just that, specifically carving out an exemption that states that training requirements for special police, security guards or others working in a police capacity do not apply to other people who have voluntarily been authorized by the school district to go armed provided they are not being employed as a special police officer or security officer.
Chairman Coley’s bill removes the opportunity for alternate interpretations of this section of law and puts this decision where it belongs, in the hands of the local school district and those who would volunteer to provide this level of protection for our school kids. We appreciate his quick attention to this issue along with President Obhof and would ask this committee to approve SB 317 as soon as possible.
I am happy to answer questions from members of the committee. Thank you.
Following is a press release from Buckeye Firearms Foundation and the FASTER Saves Lives program:
FASTER Saves Lives provides critical safety training for authorized school staff
Columbus, Ohio: In testimony on Senate Bill 317, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) makes many false accusations about Buckeye Firearms Foundation and the FASTER Saves Lives ® program.
CAIR falsely claims that SB 317 would allow teachers to carry loaded guns “without completing the safety training currently required by state law.” There are currently many school staff members that have been trained through the FASTER Saves Lives program and/or other programs and have been carrying firearms in schools for years in accordance with Ohio and Federal law. HB 317 does not even address those sections of law.
CAIR falsely claims that SB 317 would “green light” schools sending staff to FASTER Saves Lives training. However, this contradicts their own statement that “more than 2,600 teachers and staff in 18 states, as well as 79 of Ohio’s 88 counties” have already attended training. Indeed, FASTER Saves Lives conducted six more classes in June of 2020 without the benefit of SB 317.
In regards to the other claims CAIR makes regarding the course content, these are as false as the statements already mentioned. In fact, the program does not focus on who is responsible for mass killing events or why they commit these crimes. We leave these topics to experts in their respective fields.
The FASTER program provides people the training to save lives by effectively:
- Stopping the killing as soon as possible by any appropriate means
- Stopping the dying as soon as possible by providing emergency medical care
To suggest otherwise shows a misinformed or intentional misunderstanding of the knowledge and skills our program provides.
The FASTER Saves Lives program partners with administrators to make their schools safer. We have a proven record of stopping violence and saving lives.